Poetry Analysis: “The Tyger” by: William Blake
“The Tyger” Me reading “The Tyger” by: William Blake.
Background Information of William Blake and “The Tyger.”
William Blake (1757-1827) was born in London, England. At a very young age Blake displayed a very high amount of creativity. Not being able to find an education passed a drawing school; Blake began an apprenticeship when he was 14 as an engraver. His life as an engraver actually played a big role in how his poetry got published. In 1789, Blake published a book called “The Song’s of Innocence.” His most famous poem in this book was titled “The Lamb.” “The Lamb” is based on a Christian view of creation and how God created the Lamb as a perfect, innocent being. Later in 1794, Blake published another book titled “Songs of Experience.” In this book is the most famous of Blake’s career, “The Tyger.” “The Tyger” is a spiritual partner to his previous poem “The Lamb.” In “The Tyger”, Blake again speaks of an idea about creation and the creation of evil. “The Tyger” is the opposite of “The Lamb”, because instead of talking about the creation of good, he speaks about the creation of evil. In the “Tyger”, Blake uses a very powerful rhyming scheme along with a lot of Allusions referring to both Christian views of God, and Greek/roman God’s and Goddesses throughout “The Tyger.” The poem itself presents a sort of strange view on one central question that he repeats twice in the poem referring to the evil of the Tyger. “Who could/dare frame thy fearful symmetry?”(Source)
“The Tyger” by: William Blake (Songs of Experience)
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Analysis of “The Tyger”
The fourth stanza in Blakes’s poem begins with an awesome allusion, referring to the Greek God Haphaestus. “Hephaestus is the blacksmith God of fire and metallurgy who was plagued with a lame leg and toiled under the volcano, Mount Aetna, creating weapons,armor,and artwork for other God’s who distained him for his ugliness”(source). “What the hammer? what the chain? In what furnace was thy brain?” From the words Blake presents and image of a God like Hephaestus, in a dark, hell-like place,just hammering away to create this beast. By saying “In what furnace was thy brain?” Blake is implying the tyger to be made of hard, metalic “Stuff.” In the next line, he uses “What the anvil?” to again, paint the picture of a God like Hephaestus hammering away on an anvil to create the tyger out of metalic substances. To close the stanza, Blake uses alot of dark, ominous words. “what dreap grasp, Dare its deadly terrors clasp?” The words dread, dare, deadly, and terrors are worlds that describe something evil. Blake chooses to uses these words to paint an image of the tyger being an evil creature, which begins to lean us away from the assumption that the tyger was created by the God in heaven, and therefore capable of good as well as evil. The tyger and its deadly, terrors clasp is more imagery to remind us that the tyger is dark, mysterious, and horrifying (source).
Blake starts his fifth quatrain with powerful imagery as well as an allusion. ” When the stars threw down their spears, And water’d heaven with their tears,” the imagery in these two lines clearly forms some kind of picture. Blake however had some hidden symbolism in the words in these lines. It is an old tale that the twinkling of stars are the Angels in the heavens. Looking closely, it can be suggested that the word “Stars” means Angels. So the Angels are throwing down their spears. Why else whould they do that except for during the War of Angels? There was a time that Lucifer became enraged and rebelled against God and his Angels. Lucifer then went up into the heavens and battled with God and his Angels. When it says “Stars threw down their spears,” it is talking about when God’s Angels defeated Lucifer’s Angels by using spears (Source). The next part of these lines “And water’d heaven with their tears.” is also speaking about the Holy War of the Angels. The Angels of God are watering the heavens with their tears because they feel compassion to thier Angel brother who follow Lucifer (source). The Next two lines of the poem are again a few rhetorical questions, however this time, they begin to suggest something different. So far, most of the questions have led us to believe that the tyger is evil, so its creator would inherently be Lucifer. This time, the questions point to the conclusion that it was infact God who made the tyger (mankind). But, was God happy with the results of his creaton of mankind (the tyger)? “Did he smile his work to see?” (Line 19). This line is the support for the question, “was God happy with what he created?” Did he actually smile to see what the “Tyger has/can do with it’s free will? Line 20 reads: “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” This is where the table turns towards God as the creator of the tyger, not Lucifer. In Blake’s other poem “The Lamb”, the lamb is a symbol of perfection and innocence. It is a creation so pure, unable of doing wrong. Being that the tyger is not perfect, and pure, it is hard to believe that the same God cerated both these creatures. However, Blake has intended the rhetorical question in line 20 to show us that they were infact made by the same creator, and that creator is the God in heaven (source).
The sixth and final quatrain of the poem is a recap of the first quatrain. He uses repition to bring back the “Tyger! Tyger! burning bright, in the forests of the night, what immoral hand or eye.” Those three lines are identical to the first three lines of hte poem. The “Tyger” links to mankind, the burning bright refers to the flourishing and furiousity of the tyger(mankind). The line “in the forest of the night” again is used as imagery to get the readure to picture a dark, mysterious environment, implying that the tyger is a creatyre of the night. Lastly, the immortal hand or eye is a symbol of a higher power. What God is the one who created the tyger(mankind), a creature that is both terrifying and beautiful at the same time. There is one difference that Blake made in his final stanza from the first one. This difference comes in the last line of the poem, line 24. In the first stanza, Blake asked “Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” Meaning, is God actually capable of creating a creature so terrifying yet beautiful. In line 24 of the poem, Blake changes his question to ask “DARE frame thy fearful symmetry?” Now, the question is not if God is powerful enough to create a creature like the tyger, but what God would even dare to create a creature so terrifying. Would he dare create the tyger(manking) with free will, knowning that free will may lead them astray from worshiping the lord. There is one central point that Blake wanted to get through to us. In his poems, “The Lamb” and “The Tyger”, it was God who created both the Tyger and the Lamb. Although they are different and the tyger is said to posess traits of evil, God knew what he was doing, and he made the tyger (mankind) to be free, so that we could live happily.
The stage of the Hero Journey that is most represented in the poem “The Tyger” is the birth. The Birth is about the becoming of existence for a hero. In the poem, the tyger is our hero, and he is being born into the world via creation of God. The birth is when a hero first begins to realize his or her true identity by tests and natural experiences. The tyger is being born in the poem, and Blake is attempting to show us what his identity is. Birth is the begining of a hero’s life, and at first, they have the choice of wether they want to be good or evil. They are capable of both at birth, just as the tyger is capable of doing good and evil.